Is 4116 Steel Good for Knives? Exploring Pros and Cons

Share with friends

Hey, have you ever heard of 4116 steel? Is 4116 steel good for knives? Chances are that you’ve come across this steel before. If you have already dealt with knives from the manufacturer of COLD STEEL, you will know they produce a lot of beautiful knives from this steel!

I did some research about 4116 steel, a little more intensively.

In the following article, I’ll try to briefly and succinctly answer all the important questions that interest a knife enthusiast. Such as questions about the chemical composition of the steel, its hardness, suitability as a knife steel and so on.

What is 4116 steel?

4116 is a high-carbon, martensitic stainless steel produced by Thyssen-Krupp in the lower-price segment. It is a very well-known steel in the knife industry, and here mainly for knives for the medical and pharmaceutical sector and kitchen knives.

Is 4116 steel good for knives
Is 4116 steel good for knives?

Other designations and standards

4116 steel is also available under these alternative designations:

Standard Specs
Proprietary Equivalents
AISI – 420MoVMV58
DIN – X50CrMoV15MV-58
GB – 5Cr15MoVMOVA-58
GOST – 50X14MF*Eurotechni – Nitrocut NCV60
GOST – 50KH14MF*Eurotechni – NCV60
JUS – C.4770Metal Ravne – PK5
UNE – F.3422Ossenberg – RFSh5
W-Nr – 1.4116Ugine & Alz – UGINOX MA5MV
 Ugine & Alz – MA5MV
Source: Zknives

Chemical composition of 4116 steel

ThyssenKrupp’s 4116 German stainless steel features a balanced ratio of carbon and chromium, and that’s probably the secret to its exceptional corrosion resistance, edge strength, and added strength.

Here is the full chemical composition of 4116 steel:

Chrome15.0%Improves wear resistance, heat resistance and scale resistance. It increases tensile strength because it acts as a carbide former. Use of rust-proof or stainless steel, as it increases corrosion resistance from a mass proportion of 12.2%. Reduction in weldability.
Carbon0.55%Increasing hardness and tensile strength. In larger quantities, increase in brittleness and reduction in forgeability and weldability.
Manganese1.0%Improves hardness and tensile strength.
Molybdenum0.8%Improves hardenability, tensile strength and weldability. Reduction in forgeability and ductility.
Phosphor0.04%Increases tensile strength, hardness and corrosion resistance but also brittleness.
Sulfur0.03%Increases machinability but also brittleness.
Silicon1.0%Improves strength.
Vanadium0.15%Increasing hardness, increasing wear resistance and improving tempering resistance.
4116 steel composition

As you can see, 15% chromium makes 4116 a stainless steel, and the 0.55% carbon as well as a little vanadium provide its hardness.

What is the hardness (HRC) of 4116 steel?

The Rockwell Hardness (HRC) of 4116 steel typically falls in the range of 55-57 HRC (Rockwell C scale). This hardness level indicates a good balance between edge retention and toughness, making it suitable for various cutting applications.

4116 Steel Rockwell Hardness
4116 Steel Rockwell Hardness

Is 4116 rustproof or a stainless steel?

4116 steel is rustproof. To be considered corrosion resistant, it would require a chromium content of at least 10.5-13% chromium dissolved in the austenite or ferrite, depending on the definition (see here).

However, 4116 is not a stainless steel because its sulfur and phosphorus content (so-called iron companions) exceeds 0.025% (see here).

Properties of 4116 steel

According to the chemical composition and hardness of 4116 steel, it offers:

  • Edge retention: With 56 HRC, a corresponding 4116 steel knife has a good cutting durability. Not the best, it’s too soft for that, but compared to other entry-level steel knives, it’s excellent.
  • Corrosion resistance: the 15% chromium content makes 4116 steel largely impervious to corrosion.
  • Wear Resistance: 0.55% carbon gives 4116 steel decent wear resistance.
  • Sharpness: With an HRC of 56, it is certainly easy to sharpen (anything below 60 is comparatively easy). Note: “The harder the steel, the harder it is to sharpen”.
  • Machinability: 4116 contains molybdenum and sulfur, both of which make the steel easy to machine.
  • Toughness: 4116 steel is a tough steel due to the chromium and phosphorus it contains. Therefore, it is considered one of the hardest steels in the range of entry-level knives.
4116 Tanto plain black blade
4116 Tanto plain black blade

Is 4116 a good knife steel?

My opinion: As a lower-end steel, I think it is a great steel for an entry-level knife. Its corrosion resistance is very good, which makes it a good material for tools used in a humid environment, such as kitchen, fishing or diving knives. Its robustness is also outstanding in this price segment, it has a comparatively high hardness of 56 HRC and great toughness.

YES, 4116 is a good steel for knives, and also extremely affordable – but above all, you get a very good value for your money.

Related: How good is 5160 steel for making knife?

4116 Steel equivalents

According to chemical composition and hardness, 4116 steel is roughly in the neighborhood of the 400 series. It is slightly better than the 420 and 440 steels in terms of edge retention. All of these steels are well known and popular in the kitchen knife field, and this is largely due to their excellent corrosion resistance and exceedingly attractive price.

4116 steel vs. similar steels

4116 vs. 8Cr13MoV steel

8Cr13MoV offers better edge retention and wear resistance compared to 4116 steel. However, 4116 outperforms 8Cr13MoV in toughness and sharpening performance – it is easier to sharpen. However, both steels have about the same level of corrosion resistance.

4116 vs. D2 steel

The corrosion resistance as well as toughness of 4116 steel is better than that of D2 steel. However, the high carbon content gives D2 steel significantly superior edge retention as well as excellent wear resistance. On the other hand, sharpening D2 will be much more challenging due to its high hardness compared to 4116 steel.

Wrapping up: Is 4116 Steel Good for Knives?

I did a lot of research for the 4116 steel. Final summary: 4116 is an excellent steel in its field. It has everything you could want in a steel of this (the lower) price segment. It’s inexpensive, tough, hard, cutting, wear-resistant, and corrosion-resistant. What more could you want?

I would also like to mention that some owners are not happy with their 4116 steel knives and claim that Thyssen-Krupp has moved its production to China, and the quality of the steel has suffered as a result. I can neither confirm nor refute this. But possibly the reader has an opinion on this.

Cut Bolt
Cut Bolt
Articles: 89

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *